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(12/09/2014) Several Perceptions by Angela Carter. New York. 1968. Simon & Schuster. hardcover. 154 pages. Jacket design by Paul Davis. keywords: Literature England Women.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Center stage in Angela Carter’s unruly tale of the Flower Power Generation is Joseph - a decadent, disorientated rebel without a cause. A self-styled nihilist whose girlfriend has abandoned him, Joseph has decided to give up existing. But his concerned friends and neighbours have other plans. In an effort to join in the spirit of protest which motivates his contemporaries, Joseph frees a badger from the local zoo; sends a turd airmail to the President of the United States; falls in love with the mother of his best friend; and, accompanied by the strains of an old man’s violin, celebrates Christmas Eve in a bewildering state of sexual discovery. But has he found the Meaning of Life?

Angela Carter (7 May 1940 – 16 February 1992) was an English novelist and journalist, known for her feminist, magical realism, picaresque and science fiction works. In 2008, The Times ranked Carter tenth, in their list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’ Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature. She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter. They divorced after twelve years. In 1969 Angela Carter used the proceeds of her Somerset Maugham Award to leave her husband and relocate for two years to Tokyo, Japan, where she claims in NOTHING SACRED (1982) that she ‘learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised.’ She wrote about her experiences there in articles for New Society and a collection of short stories, FIREWORKS: NINE PROFANE PIECES (1974), and evidence of her experiences in Japan can also be seen in THE INFERNAL DESIRE MACHINES OF DOCTOR HOFFMAN (1972). She then explored the United States, Asia and Europe, helped by her fluency in French and German. She spent much of the late 1970s and 1980s as a writer in residence at universities, including the University of Sheffield, Brown University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of East Anglia. In 1977 Carter married Mark Pearce, with whom she had one son. As well as being a prolific writer of fiction, Carter contributed many articles to The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman, collected in SHAKING A LEG. She adapted a number of her short stories for radio and wrote two original radio dramas on Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank. Two of her fictions have been adapted for the silver screen: The Company of Wolves (1984) and THE MAGIC TOYSHOP (1987). She was actively involved in both film adaptations, her screenplays are published in the collected dramatic writings, The Curious Room, together with her radio scripts, a libretto for an opera of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders (based on the same true story as Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures) and other works. These neglected works, as well as her controversial television documentary, The Holy Family Album, are discussed in Charlotte Crofts' book, Anagrams of Desire (2003). Her novel NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature. At the time of her death, Carter was embarking on a sequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre based on the later life of Jane's stepdaughter, Adèle Varens. However, only a synopsis survives. Angela Carter died aged 51 in 1992 at her home in London after developing lung cancer.

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(12/08/2014) The Memoirs Of Satan by William Gerhardi and Brian Lunn. London. 1932. Cassell & Company. hardcover. 382 pages.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   SATAN narrates the epic of mankind and the part he has played therein. From the dim days of the remote Ice Age he watches the growth of the world, the coming of man, the part played by love and passion. He gives his version of the stories of Adam and Eve, the destruction of Sodom, the adventures of Jonah, the tribulation of Job ; he recalls the great days of history when he possessed Tiberius, Nero, the Caliph of Bagdad, Cromwell, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, and many another. Finally, he arrives at a Bayswater boardinghouse, an old man and very weary. He has his last great adventure, makes his last possession, and then his mortal remains are taken for cremation to Golders Green. FROM Futurian War Digest, a sci-fi/fantasy fanzine published in Leeds during the Second World War by J. Michael Rosenblum – (from Issue 13 (Vol. 2, Number 1), dated October 1941: ‘The Memoirs of Satan’ collated by William Gerhardie and Brian Lunn, (Cassell & Co 1932) is a surprising sort of book altogether. According to this, Satan was a collaborator of God, chosen to look after this earth because of his free and independent spirit. Mankind is due to an infatuation of his for a primitive she-ape, and he continually bemoans the fact that he did not choose a more sensible animal, such as the whale, to half endow with his divine nature. Due to his failure with this planet, Satan is finally punished by the All-Highest with the withdrawal of his immortality, and he dies, leaving the notes of his eon-long existence in a Bloomsbury hotel.’

 

  William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936). 

 

Brian Lunn (1893–1956) was a British writer. He was born in Bloomsbury, London to Methodist parents. He had a somewhat Puritanical upbringing, his father Henry Simpson Lunn (1859-1939, founder of Lunn's Travel agency that would become Lunn Poly) having strong religious beliefs which were in conflict with his talent as a businessman. Arnold Lunn and Hugh Kingsmill were his brothers. His most important work as a writer was 'Switchback', his autobiography published in 1948. Its highlight is Brian's description of a mental breakdown he had while serving in Mesopotamia in the 11th Black Watch. The onset of his breakdown was described as follows: 'Men and beasts passed through the haze, black outlines; a troup of mules with Indian driver was a stately silhouette; shambling after them a bucket-carrying menial with tousled turban and bedraggled shirt flapping round flexed knees was an immortal grotesque, raised above the plane of human need and anxiety. The Platonic Idea, as interpreted by Schopenhauer, the basis of art. Removed from all appeal to the will, the horrible was transmuted into the beautiful. He was, in fact, a sanitary man staggering back from a punishment fatigue; constantly in trouble, he would incur more fatigues, with stoppages of pay, staggering in the bog of inefficiency under implacable authority. ' '...I looked along the river banks - tents and incinerators, horses and mules, soldiers, native and European, a complex of endeavour in an enterprise as unreal as all the day-to-day needs and anxieties and discomforts, ambitions and humiliations of each individual, were real.' ‘Unreal? The word came back to me as a sudden illumination. That was it, it was all a staged show.' The delusions which accompanied this insight were hardly more absurd than the futilities of war. His other books were a biography of Martin Luther, a travel guide to Belgium and a history of the Rothschild family. "Salvation Dynasty" was Brian Lunn's account of the Salvation Army's founders.

 

 

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(12/07/2014) Laughter In The Dark by Vladimir Nabokoff. Indinapolis. 1938. 292 pages. hardcover. keywords: Literature America Russia.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Laughter in the Dark is a worked-over English translation of Kamera obskura, with the names of the main characters altered but with theme and plot more or less intact. A rather stuffy Berlin art critic (Bruno Krechmar in the Russian version / Albert Albinus in the English translation) becomes infatuated with a teenaged gamine (Margot,) leaving his wife and child to set up house with her. Through Albinus, Margot again encounters her first lover, an inhumanly nasty artist (Robert Gorn / Axel Rex.) As a result, Albinus suffers a series of misfortunes at the caprice of Rex and the not unwilling Margot. The Berlin setting, German characters, and cruel world view set Laughter in the Dark somewhat apart from the bulk of Nabokov’s oeuvre.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokovs were known for their high culture and commitment to public service, and the elder Nabokov was an outspoken opponent of antisemitism and one of the leaders of the opposition party, the Kadets. In 1919, following the Bolshevik revolution, he took his family into exile. Four years later he was shot and killed at a political rally in Berlin while trying to shield the speaker from right-wing assassins. The Nabokov household was trilingual, and as a child Nabokov was already reading Wells, Poe, Browning, Keats, Flaubert, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Tolstoy, and Chekhov, alongside the popular entertainments of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne. As a young man, he studied Slavic and romance languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his honors degree in 1922. For the next eighteen years he lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin and supporting himself through translations, lessons in English and tennis, and by composing the first crossword puzzles in Russian. In 1925 he married Vera Slonim, with whom he had one child, a son, Dmitri. Having already fled Russia and Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he was forced to leave France for the United States. There he taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He also gave up writing in Russian and began composing fiction in English. In his afterword to Lolita he claimed: "My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody's concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses--the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions--which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way." [p. 317] Yet Nabokov's American period saw the creation of what are arguably his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962), as well as the translation of his earlier Russian novels into English. He also undertook English translations of works by Lermontov and Pushkin and wrote several books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

 

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(12/06/2014) The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter. New York. 1967. Simon & Schuster. hardcover. 191 pages. Jacket design by Paul Davis. keywords: Literature England Women.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   A startling tale of the redemptive power of physical and emotional love. One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother’s wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the comfortable home of her childhood, she is sent to London to live with relatives she has never met: Aunt Margaret, beautiful and speechless, and her brothers, Francie, whose graceful music belies his clumsy nature, and the volatile Finn, who kisses Melanie in the ruins of the pleasure gardens. And brooding Unlce Philip loves only the life-sized wooden puppets he creates in his toyshop. This classic gothic novel established Angela Carter as one of our most imaginative writers and augurs the themes of her later creative work.

 

  Angela Carter (7 May 1940 – 16 February 1992) was an English novelist and journalist, known for her feminist, magical realism, picaresque and science fiction works. In 2008, The Times ranked Carter tenth, in their list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’ Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature. She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter. They divorced after twelve years. In 1969 Angela Carter used the proceeds of her Somerset Maugham Award to leave her husband and relocate for two years to Tokyo, Japan, where she claims in NOTHING SACRED (1982) that she ‘learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised.’ She wrote about her experiences there in articles for New Society and a collection of short stories, FIREWORKS: NINE PROFANE PIECES (1974), and evidence of her experiences in Japan can also be seen in THE INFERNAL DESIRE MACHINES OF DOCTOR HOFFMAN (1972). She then explored the United States, Asia and Europe, helped by her fluency in French and German. She spent much of the late 1970s and 1980s as a writer in residence at universities, including the University of Sheffield, Brown University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of East Anglia. In 1977 Carter married Mark Pearce, with whom she had one son. As well as being a prolific writer of fiction, Carter contributed many articles to The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman, collected in SHAKING A LEG. She adapted a number of her short stories for radio and wrote two original radio dramas on Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank. Two of her fictions have been adapted for the silver screen: The Company of Wolves (1984) and THE MAGIC TOYSHOP (1987). She was actively involved in both film adaptations, her screenplays are published in the collected dramatic writings, The Curious Room, together with her radio scripts, a libretto for an opera of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders (based on the same true story as Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures) and other works. These neglected works, as well as her controversial television documentary, The Holy Family Album, are discussed in Charlotte Crofts' book, Anagrams of Desire (2003). Her novel NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature. At the time of her death, Carter was embarking on a sequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre based on the later life of Jane's stepdaughter, Adèle Varens. However, only a synopsis survives. Angela Carter died aged 51 in 1992 at her home in London after developing lung cancer.

 

 

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(12/05/2014) The Romanovs: Evocation of the Past as a Mirror for the Present by William Gerhardi. London. 1940. Rich & Cowan. hardcover. 542 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A vivid and highly entertaining account of the Russian dynasty, presenting history ‘with singular dramatic power and with an easy command of all the authorities’ (Daily Telegraph).

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(12/04/2014) The Mixquiahuala Letters by Ana Castillo. Binghamton. 1986. Bilingual Press. hardcover. 132 pages. Cover design: Christopher J. Bidlack. keywords: Literature Latina Women Ethnic Hispanic Latin America. 0916950670.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   THE MIXQUIAHUALA LETTERS, an epistolary novel focusing on the correspondence between two Hispanic women, is a probing description of the relationship between the sexes. The novel is a far-ranging social and cultural document that encompasses both Mexican and United States Hispanic forms of love and gender conflict. Readers will find the conclusion of this novel to be a most powerful and emotionally gripping evocation of sexual warfare.

Ana Castillo (born 15 June 1953) is a Mexican-American Chicana novelist, poet, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scolar. Considered as one of the leading voices in Chicana experience, known for her daring and experimental style as a Latino novelist. Her works offer pungent and passionate socio-political comment that is based on established oral and literary traditions. Castillo's interest in race and gender issues can be traced throughout her writing career. Her novel, Sapogonia was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She is the editor of ‘La Tolteca’, an arts and literary magazine. Castillo held the first Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Endowed Chair at DePaul University. She has attained a number of awards including an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for her first novel, ‘The Mixquiahuala Letters’, a Carl Sandburg Award, a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in fiction and poetry and in 1998 Sor Juana Achievement Award by the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago.

 

 

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(12/03/2014)  Chamber Music by James Joyce. New York. 1971. Grossman Publishers/Cape Editions. paperback. 46 pages. Cape Editions 48. keywords: Poetry Ireland Joyce Ireland Literature. 0670211273.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   CHAMBER MUSIC, which appeared originally in 1907, was the first of Joyce’s books to reach the public. Though it brought no royalties, it was to gain him a place in the Imagist Anthology. It was thus to associate him with the Anglo-American group that included Eliot and Pound, who later helped to publicize his books. Elusive and formal, these poems are, above all, musical. Joyce, who trained as a singer in Paris, set out to write lyrics that could be sung, and their imagery – characteristically - appeals chiefly to the ear. Echoes from books, together with images from musical instruments, contribute to Joyce’s ‘elegant and antique phrase’. His models are the Elizabethan lyricists, the airs of Dowland and the words of Shakespeare. Joyce made the selection for CHAMBER MUSIC, sequentially arranged, from the large amount of verse composed during his Dublin days. It was first published by Jonathan Cape in 1927.

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century. Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer's Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles, perhaps most prominent among these the stream of consciousness technique he perfected. Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland, on February 2, 1882. He was the oldest of ten children in a family that experienced increasing financial difficulties during his childhood. After attending Clongowes Wood College and Belevedere College (both Jesuit institutions) in Dublin, he entered the Royal University, where he studied languages and philosophy. Upon his graduation, in 1902, Joyce left Ireland for France but returned the following year because his mother was dying. In 1904 he met Nora Barnacle (they fell in love on June 16, ‘Bloomsday’), and in October of that year they went together to Europe, settling in Trieste. In 1909 and again in 1912 Joyce made unsuccessful attempts to publish Dubliners, a collection of fifteen stories that he intended to be ‘a chapter of the moral history of my country focused on Dublin, ‘the centre of paralysis.’ In 1914 Dubliners finally appeared, followed by the semiautobiographical novel A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, a reworking of an earlier manuscript, STEPHEN HERO. During the First World War Joyce and Nora lived in Zurich; in 1920 they moved to Paris, where Ulysses was published in 1922. FINNEGANS WAKE, Joyce’s most radical and complex work, began appearing in installments in 1928 and was published in its entirety in 1939. After the German occupation of Paris, Joyce and Nora (who were married in 1931) moved to Zurich, where he died in January. His complete oeuvre includes three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism, and his published letters. Though most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce's fictional universe does not extend far beyond Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there; Ulysses in particular is set with precision in the streets and alleyways of the city. Shortly after the publication of Ulysses he elucidated this preoccupation somewhat, saying, ‘For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.’

 

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(12/02/2014) Meet Yourself As You Really Are by William Gerhardi and Prince Leopold Loewenstein. Philadelphia. 1936. Lippincott. hardcover. 336 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Your personality is unique - unique in its particular combination of traits common to everybody. This book in no way minimizes your individuality but it approaches that individuality via widely shared characteristics. A series of searching questions reveals first the general out- line, then the details of your own life-pattern. What may seem at first glance to be a maze of questions, instructions, and cross-references soon turns out to be a clear path towards self- revelation. The authors of this unusual book have worked for many years to perfect the nearest possible approach to an accurate characterology.

 

 

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(12/01/2014)  Poems & Antipoems by Nicanor Parra. New York. 1967. New Directions. hardcover. 149 pages. Jacket photograph by Thomas Merton. Design by David Ford. Edited by Miller Williams. keywords: Poetry Translated Latin America Chile Literature.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The Chilean poet Nicanor Parra is one of those significant figures who appear from time to time in all literature and through a profound originality and sense of the Pound/Confucius principle of ‘Make It New’ revitalize the poetry of their language. Just as the Imagists and William Carlos Williams re-channelled the course of American poetry, so Parra’s ‘antipoems,’ with their directness of metaphor and rejection of rhetoric and ‘poetic’ decoration, are influencing young poets throughout Latin America, ‘Anti poetry,’ Parra has said, ‘seeks to return poetry to its roots.’ The reader may judge from this collection, which is drawn from all of Parra’s published books, how well he has succeeded. Poems and 14ntipoems has been edited, with an introduction, by Miller Williams and presents Parra’s Spanish texts opposite the English versions which are by the editor, W. S. Merwin, Denise Levertov, Thomas Merton, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Fernando Alegria, J. Laughlin, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who first discovered Parra for North American readers with a book in the City Lights series in 1960. CONTENTS: Introduction; from POEMAS Y ANTIPOEMAS (1938-1953) - Nineteen-Thirty; Disorder in Heaven; Self-Portrait; Song; Ode to Some Doves; Puzzle; Madrigal; Landscape; Travel Notes; Letters to an Unknown Woman; The Pilgrim; The Tunnel; Memories of Youth; Piano Solo; The Viper; The Vices of the Modern World; The Tablets; The Trap; The Individual’s Soliloquy; from VERSOS DE SALON (1953-1962) - Changes of Name; Roller Coaster; In the Graveyard; Clever Ideas Occur to Me; Love Tale; Journey through Hell; Death and the Maiden; I Move the Meeting Be Adjourned; Mummies; Butterfly; Dreams; Dog’s Life; Poetry Ends With Me; Women; Soda Fountain; Litany of the Little Bourgeois; What the Deceased Had To Say About Himself; Funeral Address; The Imperfect Lover; The Shuffled Deck; from CANCIONES RUSAS (1963-1964) - Snow; Chronos; Beggar; Hot Cakes; Rites; Nobody; from EJERCICIOS RESPIRATORIOS (1964-1966) - Stains on the Wall; Act of Independence; Lonelyhearts; I call Myself a Reasonable Man; Thoughts; In The Cemetery; Young Poets; Ponchartrain Causeway; Test; Lord’s Prayer; I Take Back Everything I’ve Said. Poemas y Antipoemas and Versos de Salon were first published by Editorial Nascimento, Santiago de Chile, Canciones Rusas was first published by Editorial Joaquin Mortiz, Mexico City. Nicanor Parra’s first book publication in the United States was a selection of Antipoems in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights ‘Pocket Poets’ Series, San Francisco.

Nicanor Parra Sandoval (born 5 September 1914) is a Chilean poet, mathematician, and physicist. He is considered an influential poet in Chile and throughout Latin America. Some rank him among the most important poets of Spanish language literature. Parra describes himself as an ‘anti-poet,’ due to his distaste for standard poetic pomp and function; after recitations he exclaims ‘Me retracto de todo lo dicho’ (‘I take back everything I said’). Parra, the son of a schoolteacher, was born in 1914 in San Fabián de Alico, Chile, near Chillán in southern Chile. He comes from the artistically prolific Parra family of performers, musicians, artists, and writers. His sister, Violeta Parra, was a folk singer, as was his brother Roberto Parra Sandoval. In 1933, he entered the Instituto Pedagógico of the University of Chile, and qualified as a teacher of mathematics and physics in 1938, one year after his first book, Cancionero sin Nombre, appeared. After teaching in Chilean secondary schools, in 1943 he enrolled in Brown University in the United States to study physics. In 1948, he attended Oxford University to study cosmology. He returned to Chile as a professor at the Universidad de Chile in 1946. Since 1952, Parra has been professor of theoretical physics in Santiago and has read his poetry in England, France, Russia, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. He has published several books. Parra chooses to leave behind the conventions of poetry; his poetic language renounces the refinement of most Latin American literature and adopts a more colloquial tone. His first collection, Poemas y Antipoemas (1954) is a classic of Latin American literature, one of the most influential Spanish poetry collections of the twentieth century. It is cited as an inspiration by American Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg. On December 1, 2011, Parra won the Spanish Ministry of Culture's Cervantes Prize, the most important literary prize in the Spanish-speaking world. On June 7, 2012, he won the Premio Iberoamericano de Poesía Pablo Neruda.

 

 

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(11/30/2014) Pretty Creatures by William Gerhardi. New York. 1927. Duffield & Company. hardcover. 194 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Written between 1924 and 1925, in a wonderfully spare prose in which not a word is wasted, Pretty Creatures consists of three short novels and two stories which show Gerhardie’s gifts of perception in their purest form. One of the stories was described by Julian Symons as ‘a little masterpiece.’

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(11/29/2014) The Passion Of New Eve by Angela Carter. New York. 1977. Harcourt Brace & Jovanovich. hardcover. 191 pages. Jacket design by Richard Mantel. keywords: Literature England Women. 0151712850.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   ‘I know nothing. I am a tabula rasa, a blank sheet of paper, an unhatched egg. I have not yet become a woman, although I possess a woman’s shape. Not a woman, no: both more and less than a real woman. Now I am a being as mythic and monstrous as Mother herself. New York has become the City of Dreadful Night where dissolute Leilah performs a dance of chaos for Evelyn. But this young Englishman’s fate lies in the arid desert, where a many-breasted fertility goddess will wield her scalpel to transform him into the new Eve.

Angela Carter (7 May 1940 – 16 February 1992) was an English novelist and journalist, known for her feminist, magical realism, picaresque and science fiction works. In 2008, The Times ranked Carter tenth, in their list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’ Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature. She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter. They divorced after twelve years. In 1969 Angela Carter used the proceeds of her Somerset Maugham Award to leave her husband and relocate for two years to Tokyo, Japan, where she claims in NOTHING SACRED (1982) that she ‘learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised.’ She wrote about her experiences there in articles for New Society and a collection of short stories, FIREWORKS: NINE PROFANE PIECES (1974), and evidence of her experiences in Japan can also be seen in THE INFERNAL DESIRE MACHINES OF DOCTOR HOFFMAN (1972). She then explored the United States, Asia and Europe, helped by her fluency in French and German. She spent much of the late 1970s and 1980s as a writer in residence at universities, including the University of Sheffield, Brown University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of East Anglia. In 1977 Carter married Mark Pearce, with whom she had one son. As well as being a prolific writer of fiction, Carter contributed many articles to The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman, collected in SHAKING A LEG. She adapted a number of her short stories for radio and wrote two original radio dramas on Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank. Two of her fictions have been adapted for the silver screen: The Company of Wolves (1984) and THE MAGIC TOYSHOP (1987). She was actively involved in both film adaptations, her screenplays are published in the collected dramatic writings, The Curious Room, together with her radio scripts, a libretto for an opera of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders (based on the same true story as Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures) and other works. These neglected works, as well as her controversial television documentary, The Holy Family Album, are discussed in Charlotte Crofts' book, Anagrams of Desire (2003). Her novel NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature. At the time of her death, Carter was embarking on a sequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre based on the later life of Jane's stepdaughter, Adèle Varens. However, only a synopsis survives. Angela Carter died aged 51 in 1992 at her home in London after developing lung cancer.

 

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(11/28/2014)  There's A Wocket In My Pocket! by Dr. Seuss. New York. 1974. unpaginated. BE18. hardcover. 0394829204. Cover art by Dr. Seuss. keywords: Children's Books.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   There's a Wocket in My Pocket is filled with bizarre creatures and rhymes: the nupboard in the cupboard, ghairs beneath the stairs, and the bofa on the sofa!.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist most widely known for children's picture books written and illustrated as Dr. Seuss. He had used the pen name Dr. Theophrastus Seuss in college and later used Theo LeSieg, and once Rosetta Stone, as well as Dr. Seuss. Geisel published 46 children's books, which were often characterized by imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of anapestic meter. His most celebrated books include the bestselling Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Numerous adaptations of his work have been created, including 11 television specials, four feature films, a Broadway musical and four television series. He won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 for Horton Hatches the Egg and again in 1961 for And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Geisel also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns, most notably for Flit and Standard Oil, and as a political cartoonist for PM, a New York City newspaper. During World War II, he worked in an animation department of the United States Army, where he wrote Design for Death, a film that later won the 1947 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. He was a perfectionist in his work and he would sometimes spend up to a year on a book. It was not uncommon for him to throw out 95% of his material until he settled on a theme for his book. For a writer he was unusual in that he preferred to only be paid after he finished his work rather than in advance. Geisel's birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.

 

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(11/27/2014)  Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer. New York. 1979. 361 pages. hardcover. 0670194751. keywords: Literature South Africa Women.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A depiction of South Africa today, this audiobook is more revealing than a thousand news dispatches as it tells the story of a young woman cast in the role of a young revolutionary, trying to uphold a heritage handed on by martyred parents while carving out a sense of self.

Nadine Gordimer (20 November 1923 – 13 July 2014) was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a woman ‘who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity’. Gordimer's writing dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. Under that regime, works such as Burger's Daughter and July's People were banned. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress during the days when the organization was banned. She was also active in HIV/AIDS causes. Ms Gordimer once said, ‘In imaginative writing theme is communication in the deepest sense. . . . Themes are statements or questions arising from the nature of the society in which the writer finds himself immersed and the kind and quality of the life around him.’

 

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(11/26/2014) Polyglots by William Gerhardi. New York. 1925. Duffield & Company. hardcover. 375 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   THE POLYGLOTS, Gerhardie’s comic masterpiece, is the unforgettable tale of an eccentric Belgian family living in the Far East through the uncertain years after the First World War and the Russian Revolution. The tale is recounted by their dryly conceited young English relative Captain Georges Hamlet Alexander Diabologh, who comes to stay with them during his military mission to the East. Filled with a host of bizarre characters - depressives, obsessives, paranoiacs, sex maniacs, hypochondriacs - Gerhardie paints a wonderfully absurd and directionless world where the comic and tragic are irrevocably entwined.

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(11/25/2014)  The Pencil Of God by Philippe Thoby-Marcelin and Pierre Marcelin. Boston. 1951. Houghton Mifflin. hardcover. 204 pages. Cover: Anne Marie Jauss. Translated from the French by Leonard Thomas. keywords: Literature Translated Haiti Caribbean Black. 078144554X.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In their latest novel, THE PENCIL OF GOD, the Marcelin brothers strike a new note. The first novel, CANAPÊ VERT, was awarded the prize by John Dos Passos in the Latin-American contest. OF CANAPÉ VERT and THE BEAST OF THE HAITIAN HILLS, Waldo Frank has said: ‘The novels of the Marcelins capture the profound rhythms of Haitian life, and reveal both the folkloric roots and the social actuality of a dramatic unique people.’ With the Haitian exposition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of their liberation, the spotlight is on Haiti. The Marcelins emerge more clearly than ever as the eloquent representatives of a literature which has at last come into its own. THE PENCIL OF GOD writes hard and fast when it writes; and the Haitians it say the pencil of God has no eraser. This is a novel of the strange half-lit world which exists in Haiti between the church and voodoo, and of a simple devout man, Diogene Cyprien, a small warehouse owner, whose weakness is an everlasting and virile love of the ladies. In his last fling, the very dissimulation and craftiness which he has used to attain his heart’s desire is boomeranged back to him by his love’s old female relatives, who place a voodoo curse on him. His life becomes a series of freak disasters - tongues clack in the provincial, small-town atmosphere of Saint-Marc. The gossip that he is a werewolf, a fiend, a consort of evil spirits, at first a whisper, becomes a deafening roar. Like a swimmer pulled by the tide between the sharks and the reefs, Diogene is pulled between the church and voodoo. The curse is the curse of gossip and suspicion, which can be as effective in Boston or New York or anywhere else as it is in Haiti. THE PENCIL OF GOD is not an explanation of why Haitians believe in voodoo or why it works, but of the subtle suggestive process of how. In THE PENCIL OF GOD the Marcelin brothers present that society halfway between Paris and Africa, half civilized and half primitive. Edmund Wilson has said: ‘They have an interest and importance something like that of Silone.’ It is not unusual in Haiti for a son to prefix his mother’s maiden name to his surname, and Philippe Thoby-Marcelin has availed himself of this custom, while his brother, Pierre Marcelin, has not. Both, however, were born of the same parents in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the heirs to a family literary tradition. Their maternal grandfather, Armand Thoby, attained eminence as a Haitian author as did an uncle, Perceval Thoby, who specialized in political writings. Their father, Emile Marcelin, in addition to having a political career which culminated in the posts of Minister of Finance and Haitian Minister to Cuba, was a novelist and literary critic. Their formal education was entrusted to the Catholic clergy of Haiti’s novels of Haiti’s private schools while their informal education was accomplished - at least in part - by the writers and political leaders who made the Marcelin home in Port-au-Prince a gathering place. Their paternal grandmother, Heloise Marcelin, the foremost pianist of her time, exerted an influence on their artistic education. Philippe Thoby-Marcelin has borne the responsibility for much of Haiti’s renaissance in the arts and was a leader in the avant-garde literary movement there. As a member of the group which centered around ‘La Revue Indigène’ he took a strong stand against the imitation of French writing which has been the custom with his literary forebears. The tenets of this circle were frankly nationalistic and stemmed from the belief that their cultural heritage was the strongest weapon against any deleterious influences from the United States. By writing as Haitians, speaking the language of their own people and their own times, they strove to encourage a respect for values native to Haitians and to all black peoples. ‘We were called - with a certain good humor to be sure - these young messieurs of La Revue Indigeste’ (The Indigestible Review),’ says Mr. Thoby-Marcelin. ‘We were very unjust toward our elders whom we accused of having failed at everything, particularly in guarding our country’s independence. We did not take the obstacles into account and we failed to see that after all they had advanced, that in many ways they had prepared the way for us.’

 

 

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(11/24/2014) Pending Heaven by William Gerhardi. New York. 1930. Harper & Brothers. hardcover. 293 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   ‘A fantastic, semi-symbolical, loosely written narrative in which the characters are a pack of lunatics with farmyard morals - Liverpool Post. Gerhardie himself descried the book as ‘ a novel about two men treading the donkey-round of paradise deferred their literary friendship strained to breaking-point by rivalry in love. The two main characters are thought to be based on Hugh Kingsmill (Max) and Gerhardie himself (Victor).

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(11/23/2014) You Can't Do Both by Kingsley Amis. London. 1994. Hutchinson & Company. hardcover. 306 pages. keywords: Literature England. 0091782627.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In this strongly autobiographical novel, set in pre-war England, Robin Davies suffocates under an overbearing father and a gentile society. He aches for discovery, for independence - and tries it with Dilys, seductive and insatiable; with Jeremy, intellectual and anguished; and with Nancy, the Oxford woman who marked a key turning point in his life. This is a coming-of-age, not a parting-of-ways story, for Robin's relationship with his father eventually becomes deeply affectionate and affecting. 'Funny, outrageous and tender.' (B-O-T Editorial Review Board).

Kingsley Amis was born in South London in 1922 and was educated at the City of London School and at St John’s College, Oxford, of which he is an Honorary Fellow. Between 1949 and 1963 he taught at the University College of Swansea, Princeton University and Peterhouse, Cambridge. He started his career as a poet and has continued to write in that medium ever since. His novels include LUCKY JIM (1954). TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU (1960), THE ANTI-DEATH LEAGUE (1966), ENDING UP (1974), THE ALTERATION (1976), JAKE’S THING (1978) and STANLEY AND THE WOMEN (1984). His novel, THE OLD DEVILS, won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1986. Among his other publications are NEW MAPS OF HELL, a survey of science fiction (1960), RUDYARD KIPLING AND HIS WORLD (1975) and THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCIENCE FICTION (1981). He published his COLLECTED POEMS in 1979, and has also edited THE NEW OXFORD BOOK OF LIGHT VERSE and THE FABER POPULAR RECITER. Kingsley Amis was awarded the CBE in 1981.

 

 

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(11/22/2014) The Bass Saxophone by Josef Skvorecky. New York. 1979. Knopf. hardcover. 212 pages. January 1979. Front-of-jacket illustration by G. Freschet. Translated from the Czech by Kaca Polackova-Henley. keywords: Literature Translated Czech Eastern Europe. 0394502671.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The two haunting, poetic novellas that comprise THE BASS SAXOPHONE brilliantly evoke the comedy and sadness of life under the Nazi and Soviet dictatorships. They are prefaced by a remarkable memoir of Skvorecky's jazz-obsessed youth. Jazz is a symbol of freedom in both these novellas. In EMOKE, which is set in the shadow of the Communist regime, jazz becomes the means by which a jaded young man plots the seduction of a mysterious girl enmeshed in superstition and the occult. Spurned, but fascinated, he is drawn into her tortured existence until catapulted into the final bitter comedy. In THE BASS SAXOPHONE a young Czechoslovakian student living under the rule of the Nazis is lured by his love of jazz - the ‘forbidden music’ - into secretly and dangerously playing in a German band, with bizarre and unexpected results. Written with the lyrical intensity of a great jazz performance, these two extraordinary novellas are among Skvorecky's finest works.

Josef Škvorecký (September 27, 1924 – January 3, 2012) was a Czech-Canadian writer and publisher who spent much of his life in Canada. SKVORECKY was born in Bohemia, emigrated to Canada in 1968, and was for many years a professor of English at Erindale College, University of Toronto. He and his wife, the novelist Zdena Salivarova, ran a Czech-language publishing house, Sixty-Eight Publishers, in Toronto, and were long-time supporters of Czech dissident writers before the fall of communism in that country. Skvorecky’s novels include THE COWARDS, MISS SILVER’S PAST, THE BASS SAXOPHONE, THE ENGINEER OF HUMAN SOULS, and DVORAK IN LOVE. He was the winner of the 1980 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1984 Governor General’s Award for fiction in Canada. Škvorecký's fiction deals with several themes: the horrors of totalitarianism and repression, the expatriate experience, and the miracle of jazz.

 

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(11/21/2014) Futility: A Novel On Russian Themes by William Gerhardi. New York. 1922. Duffield & Company. hardcover. 256 pages. Preface by Edith Wharton.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This is the first novel by William Gerhardie, first published in 1922, and it was made famous by H. G. Wells, who described it as 'true, devastating - a wonderful book'. Based on Gerhardie's own experiences as a member of the British Military Mission to Siberia shortly after the October Revolution, Futility paints a picture of contemporary Russian society which deserves comparison with the writing of Chekhov. At the centre of the story is Nicolai Vasilievich, who trails across Russia in the wake of the British Mission in the perpetual and unrealistic hope of seeing his fortunes improve, even though they steadily deteriorate. In counterpoint to Nicolai's comic progression, Gerhardie tells the story of his narrator's hopeless love for Nina, the second of Nicolai's three bewitching adolescent daughters. 'William Gerhardie is one of our immortals. He is our Gogol's Overcoat. We all came out of him.' Olivia Manning 'He is a comic writer of genius. but his art is profoundly serious.' C. P. Snow.

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(11/20/2014) Fox In Socks by Dr. Seuss. New York. 1993. unpaginated. hardcover. 0394800389. Cover art by Dr. Seuss. keywords: Children's Books.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A collection of tongue twisters that is 'an amusing exercise for beginning readers.' - Kirkus.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist most widely known for children's picture books written and illustrated as Dr. Seuss. He had used the pen name Dr. Theophrastus Seuss in college and later used Theo LeSieg, and once Rosetta Stone, as well as Dr. Seuss. Geisel published 46 children's books, which were often characterized by imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of anapestic meter. His most celebrated books include the bestselling Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Numerous adaptations of his work have been created, including 11 television specials, four feature films, a Broadway musical and four television series. He won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 for Horton Hatches the Egg and again in 1961 for And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Geisel also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns, most notably for Flit and Standard Oil, and as a political cartoonist for PM, a New York City newspaper. During World War II, he worked in an animation department of the United States Army, where he wrote Design for Death, a film that later won the 1947 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. He was a perfectionist in his work and he would sometimes spend up to a year on a book. It was not uncommon for him to throw out 95% of his material until he settled on a theme for his book. For a writer he was unusual in that he preferred to only be paid after he finished his work rather than in advance. Geisel's birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.

 

 

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(11/19/2014) Headed For The Blues: A Memoir by Josef Skvorecky. Hopewell. 1996. Ecco Press. hardcover. 176 pages. Translated from the Czech by Kaca Polackova Henley. keywords: Literature Translated Czech Eastern Europe Autobiography. 0880014628.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Jazz, politics, sex, fear, and the humor necessary to survive absurdity provide the backdrop as Skvorecky seamlessly interweaves his own story with those of his friends; particularly that of his childhood friend Prema, whose life stands in stark contrast to Skvorecky's own. Forced to flee the country shortly after the end of World War II for illegally broadcasting from a stolen transmitter, Prema embarks on an itinerant life, wandering as far as Australia, occasionally dropping Skvorecky 'Dear Old Buddy' postcards reporting on a life robbed of its home and its promise. Headed for the Blues recounts Czechoslovakia's evolution from Nazi rule to Soviet-dominated communism, from the age of the 'exhausted executioners' ('there were so many executions the Ministry asked them to slow down, the executioners are exhausted') to the age of those petty agents of the secret police called fizls ('rhymes with weasels'), a time when friends and neighbors - even family members - informed on one another. As a culture of fear and mistrust grew in the country, the lives of its people were heedlessly tossed about by the winds of politics. Throughout the book there are fascinating digressions on the subject of writing from a master of twentieth-century literature. Skvorecky discusses his own novels, the works of others, the process of writing, and the differences between real life and his highly autobiographical fiction.

Josef Škvorecký (September 27, 1924 – January 3, 2012) was a Czech-Canadian writer and publisher who spent much of his life in Canada. SKVORECKY was born in Bohemia, emigrated to Canada in 1968, and was for many years a professor of English at Erindale College, University of Toronto. He and his wife, the novelist Zdena Salivarova, ran a Czech-language publishing house, Sixty-Eight Publishers, in Toronto, and were long-time supporters of Czech dissident writers before the fall of communism in that country. Skvorecky’s novels include THE COWARDS, MISS SILVER’S PAST, THE BASS SAXOPHONE, THE ENGINEER OF HUMAN SOULS, and DVORAK IN LOVE. He was the winner of the 1980 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1984 Governor General’s Award for fiction in Canada. Škvorecký's fiction deals with several themes: the horrors of totalitarianism and repression, the expatriate experience, and the miracle of jazz.

 

 

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(11/18/2014) Crimes Of Conscience: Selected Short Stories by Nadine Gordimer. London. 1991. 121 pages. paperback. 0435906682. keywords: Literature South Africa Women.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This powerful collection of short stories, set in Gordimer's native South Africa, reveals her outstanding ability to pierce the core of the human condition.

Nadine Gordimer (20 November 1923 – 13 July 2014) was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a woman ‘who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity’. Gordimer's writing dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. Under that regime, works such as Burger's Daughter and July's People were banned. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress during the days when the organization was banned. She was also active in HIV/AIDS causes. Ms Gordimer once said, ‘In imaginative writing theme is communication in the deepest sense. . . . Themes are statements or questions arising from the nature of the society in which the writer finds himself immersed and the kind and quality of the life around him.’ 

 

 

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(11/17/2014) Little Lit: Stranger Stories for Strange Kids by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly (editors). New York. 2001. Harper Collins. hardcover. 64 pages. September 2004. keywords: Comix Comics Art Children’s Books. 0060286261.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The second groundbreaking anthology from the New York Times best-selling team of Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly is here! The everyday world is turned upside down and the ordinary becomes extraordinary in this collection of the strangest tales. From Art Spiegelman's The Several Lives of Selby Sheldrake to Maurice Sendak's Cereal Baby Keller to Jules Feiffer's Trapped in a Comic Book, these stories are sure to entice any young reader. Also included are comics and features by Ian Falconer and David Sedaris, Paul Auster and Jacques de Loustal, Crockett Johnson, Richard McGuire, and Barbara McClintock, a puzzle by Lewis Trondheim, and make-your-own comic-book endpapers from Kaz. Little Lit Strange Stories for Strange Kids continues the tradition of bringing the pleasure of books and reading into the hands and minds of kids.

 

 

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(11/15/2014) Anton Chehov by William Gerhardi. New York. 1923. Duffield & Company. hardcover. 207 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Author's second book, and the first full-length book on Chehov in any language other than Russian.Gerhardi’s study is centered on a concept of ‘the ineffable,’ which permits the novel to do what philosophy cannot, in other words to hold apparently irreconcilable ideas in a significant relationship. ‘There is a book’, wrote Desmond MacCarthy in the New Statesman, ‘no-one interested in Chehov should miss reading. It has been out some time, and it is by Mr William Gerhardie who wrote that admirable novel about Russian life, Futility. This critical study is one of the best I have read. one that will find a permanent place in any library of critical literature.’ Written for the most part while Gerhardie was at Oxford, Anton Chehov was first published in 1923. It was, indeed, the first critical study of Chehov to be published in any language, and the general acclaim with which it was greeted in England and America was echoed in Russia, where today it is still spoken of as a standard work. For English readers, dealing as it does with the whole of Chehov’s work, it remains one of the most authoritative studies available. Gerhardie was uniquely placed to write this book. His Russian childhood and bilingual upbringing enabled him to appreciate Chehov’s humour and lyricism in a way which simply was not open to those who had access to Chehov’s writings merely in translation. This is a work of warmth and affection. To some extent, Gerhardie claims, Chehov’s writings can take the place of life itself, so that, when they die, Chehov’s readers ‘may congratulate themselves on having lived a hundred lives - but paid for one’. Gerhardie has for Chehov, in addition to the deep understanding ofone imaginative writer for another, a love which is part of his love of life itself.

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(11/14/2014) God's Fifth Column: A Biography Of The Age 1890-1940 by William Gerhardie. London. 1981. Hodder & Stoughton. hardcover. 360 pages. Cover design: Melvyn Gill. 0340263407.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   GOD’S FIFTH COLUMN is the last book of William Gerhardie who died in 1977 in his eighty-second year. Well known in the 1920s and 1930s chiefly as a novelist (whose books were admired by Arnold Bennett, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and others). Gerhardie fell mysteriously silent at the beginning of the Second World War and did not publish another book during the remaining thirty-seven years of his life. After his death the manuscript of this ambitious and unusual book was discovered among his papers and has been skillfully edited for publication by Michael Holroyd and Robert Skidelsky. It is a biography of the age, 1890-1940, through which Gerhardie lived. ;If I were the Unknown Soldier,’ he wrote, ‘my ghost would refuse to lie down under the heavy piece of marble; I would arise, and I would say to them: keep your blasted memorial and learn sense!’ The suffering unit was Gerhardie’s measure of the crimes and follies of rulers; and his criticism of orthodox historians was that they echoed the generals and statesmen, endorsing the calculations of the insane. For Gerhardie, it is the artists, the men of imagination rather than of will, who are the true spokesmen for mankind; and it is through the artist’s vision and the writer’s use of language that he tries to bring the age into moral perspective. Gerhardie conceived GOD’S FIFTH COLUMN as the motive force that sabotages man’s complacency and makes progress possible. Faith, hope, charity and mercy are the four columns in God’s army; the fifth is divine discontent. The theme, like a fifth column agent himself, enters the work surreptitiously and gains force through cumulative illustration; the absurdity of Queen Victoria, empress of more than half the world, defending her hearthside rug from the footprint of Balfour; the tragic-comedy of Tolstoy, apostle of love, fleeing from his wife; the gaiety of Chekhov’s funeral, his coffin arriving in a truck marked ‘For Oysters.’ The incidents and personalities are subtly linked through contrast and parallel to make GOD’S FIFTH COLUMN one of the most remarkable works of this gifted writer. William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(11/13/2014) Wayward Girls & Wicked Women: An Anthology Of Subversive Stories by Angela Carter (editor). New York. 1989. Penguin Books. paperback. 339 pages. Cover design by Melissa Jacoby. Paperback Original. keywords: Literature Women Anthology. 0140103716.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Here are subversive tales - by Ama Ata Aidoo, Djuna Barnes, Jane Bowles, Angela Carter, Colette, Bessie Head, Jamaica Kincaid and Katherine Mansfield among others - all with one thing in common: the wish to restore adventuresses and revolutionaries to their rightful position as role models for all women. Elizabeth Jolley celebrates that rare phenomenon, the female confidence trickster and in Leonora Carrington’s beautifully surreal tale, a hyena is persuaded by a debutante to take her place at the ball - and go dressed to kill. Reflecting the wide-ranging intelligence and deliciously anarchic taste of Angela Carter, some of these stories celebrate toughness and resilience, some of them low cunning: all of them are about not being nice.

Angela Carter (7 May 1940 – 16 February 1992) was an English novelist and journalist, known for her feminist, magical realism, picaresque and science fiction works. In 2008, The Times ranked Carter tenth, in their list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’ Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature. She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter. They divorced after twelve years. In 1969 Angela Carter used the proceeds of her Somerset Maugham Award to leave her husband and relocate for two years to Tokyo, Japan, where she claims in NOTHING SACRED (1982) that she ‘learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised.’ She wrote about her experiences there in articles for New Society and a collection of short stories, FIREWORKS: NINE PROFANE PIECES (1974), and evidence of her experiences in Japan can also be seen in THE INFERNAL DESIRE MACHINES OF DOCTOR HOFFMAN (1972). She then explored the United States, Asia and Europe, helped by her fluency in French and German. She spent much of the late 1970s and 1980s as a writer in residence at universities, including the University of Sheffield, Brown University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of East Anglia. In 1977 Carter married Mark Pearce, with whom she had one son. As well as being a prolific writer of fiction, Carter contributed many articles to The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman, collected in SHAKING A LEG. She adapted a number of her short stories for radio and wrote two original radio dramas on Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank. Two of her fictions have been adapted for the silver screen: The Company of Wolves (1984) and THE MAGIC TOYSHOP (1987). She was actively involved in both film adaptations, her screenplays are published in the collected dramatic writings, The Curious Room, together with her radio scripts, a libretto for an opera of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders (based on the same true story as Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures) and other works. These neglected works, as well as her controversial television documentary, The Holy Family Album, are discussed in Charlotte Crofts' book, Anagrams of Desire (2003). Her novel NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature. At the time of her death, Carter was embarking on a sequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre based on the later life of Jane's stepdaughter, Adèle Varens. However, only a synopsis survives. Angela Carter died aged 51 in 1992 at her home in London after developing lung cancer.

 

 

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